WE Can Code Program Teaches Women’s Economic Empowerment with Newly Designed Book

Strive: A Story About Pursuing Your Dreams” is an interactive narrative-based tool helping teach young women critical life skills.

WE Can Code participants using “Strive,” an interactive narrative-based tool to teach about women’s economic empowerment.

International Women’s Day is March 8, and this year’s theme, Break the Bias, focuses on the need for greater gender equality. The global day of observation cites several missions for action, such as building workplaces where women thrive, strengthening women’s empowerment, and forging women’s equality in the field of technology.

World Learning is working to break the bias and promote women’s equality through its pilot project WE Can Code, a women’s economic empowerment and career mentorship program in Jordan.

Funded by the U.S. Embassy Amman, the project helps disadvantaged women in secondary school explore career opportunities in Jordan’s growing information, communications, and technology (ICT) job market. The participants are partnered with female professionals in Jordan who serve as role models. They also take part in webinars with female IT professionals from the U.S. The program, which also includes male participants, aims to teach all genders that women can play an important role in Jordan’s ICT sector.

Strive: A Story About Pursuing Your Dreams

As part of the project, World Learning is using an interactive narrative-based tool to teach women’s economic empowerment and critical life skills. The curriculum, “Strive: A Story About Pursuing Your Dreams,” was originally created for the USAID project Advancing Girls Education and Skills in Pakistan. WE Can Code project staff did extensive context research and interviews in Jordan to adapt the story and had it translated into Arabic with Levantine language references to match the participants’ forms of expression.

The teaching aide uses storytelling and role modeling, as well as cooperative activities, to develop 15 life skills important for women’s economic empowerment. The story is based on current research on life skills and soft skills development, including how to manage time, set goals, promote your rights, and communicate with elders. Each of the 14 chapters introduces and models at least one of these skills followed by activities to promote participants’ skill development.

Graphic from “Strive” used to teach 15 life skills important for women’s economic empowerment.

To make the story’s lessons relatable, they are woven through the narrative of two characters’ lives: Malak, a young woman not able to complete secondary school but who has dreams of becoming a professional chef, and Thará, Malak’s neighbor and lifelong friend, who is in her last year of secondary school and studying for her computer science exams. The story follows them pursuing their dreams despite their struggles. The story also features challenging discussions between male family members to demonstrate that men can uphold their family values while also supporting women’s empowerment. Malak and Thará’s stories help facilitate discussions as the participants explore their own education pathways and career interests.

Sanabil Nabil, a Jordanian illustrator and professional in the ICT sector, was enlisted to create the book’s cover art and illustrations. The illustrations align with each chapter and depict different cultural backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses of the program’s targeted beneficiaries. Through creative imagery of everyday scenes, like showing a character hand washing clothes, walking to the market, and studying in a vocational school, the illustrator represents life in peri-urban and semi-rural Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) communities.

Following World Learning’s Transforming Agency, Access, and Power inclusion principles, the illustrations also aim to present people of different races, ethnicities, and genders, as well as people with disabilities. Attention was also given to what the characters were wearing to represent the range of cultural dress in the MENA region. Some illustrations depict women wearing hijabs with more modest clothing while others do not have head coverings and wear more contemporary clothing.

Illustration from “Strive,” depicting different races and people with disabilities.

“What makes “Strive” different from existing curriculum on life skills and women’s empowerment is how it deeply engages youth in identifying with the characters, the struggles they experience, and the strategies they take to overcome them,” said Catherine Honeyman, a senior youth workforce specialist for World Learning. “Participants see themselves in the story and learn to envision new possibilities for their futures.”

This story taught me to persevere, not to give up, and to achieve my goal, no matter how difficult it is,” said one female participant.

The WE Can Code program, with the use of the dynamic visual story “Strive” as the main curriculum tool, is a tangible and effective example of how societies can break the bias to create a more gender-equal world. Another participant said it has impacted her way of thinking and talking about the future.

“It affected me in a positive way, showing it is necessary to pursue dreams and ambitions, and not remain silent about my rights.”

Engaging Youth in Jordan

Youth engagement in Jordan is a top priority for Ahmad Fayez Ajarmeh.

He is the head of the Project Management Unit in the Ministry of Political Development and Parliamentary Affairs in Jordan, and he is passionate about civil society and engagement.

Last year he participated in the Leaders for Democracy Fellowship, a U.S. Department of State-funded exchange program run by the non-profit World Learning, which brings young professionals from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to the U.S. to help them develop leadership skills and develop projects to implement back in their home country.

Ajarmeh says 2017 is a pivotal year for Jordan because of forthcoming municipal elections and the enactment of a 2015 bill that gives more autonomy to local councils. The new law will allow anyone over the age of 25 to run for local office.

Ahmad (left) participating in a TAAP inclusion workshop at World Learning.

Expanding local governance is a way to engage with youth and women, explains Ajarmeh.

“It’s important to give young people an opportunity to be active in their communities and make a positive change in their community.”

In his role in the ministry, Ajarmeh worked with E.U. organizations, and he realized he needed to become better acquainted with organizations in the U.S. too.

“I needed to enrich myself with the American experience because I heard a lot about democracy, civil society organizations’ work, and political parties’ work in the U.S.,” he says.

During the fellowship, Ajarmeh interned at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in Washington, DC, where he published a research paper about Jordan’s upcoming municipal elections and outlined way to facilitate participation for youth, women, and disabled people both as voters and candidates.

In Jordan, Ajarmeh plans to offer training in public speaking and campaign management to youth and women candidates.

He says another benefit of the LDF program was meeting other emerging leaders across the MENA region.

“We face many common challenges in our region and I think the best way to deal with these challenges is to sit together and discuss our problems and find ways to solve them to better our community,” adds Ajarmeh.

Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminars

Participant Profile

Participants are alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs and vary in age and level of expertise, but all will be engaged in the seminar topic and highly motivated to create change in their communities.

Please consult the list of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs below.

Participant Selection

Alumni TIES participants who are not U.S. citizens are nominated by the U.S. Embassies or Consulates in their countries. Please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country to learn how you can participate in Alumni TIES. Potential Alumni TIES participants who are living in the United States can apply for specific seminars managed by World Learning. The web link to the online application will be distributed widely by the Office of Alumni Affairs of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

All participants for Alumni TIES seminars are selected by the U.S. Department of State.

Program Design

Alumni TIES seminars take place in six world regions and the U.S.; each seminar is three to four days for small groups of alumni. The seminars include speakers, capacity development trainings, and alumni networking activities. Through the small grants initiative, alumni have the opportunity to take action and make a positive difference in their communities.

Learn More

Watch more videos about the Alumni TIES program.

Read stories from past participants about their experiences at the seminars or with their small grant projects on the Alumni TIES blog.

For information on programs for U.S. government-sponsored exchange program alumni visit the International Exchange Alumni website.

Alumni TIES is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and supported in its implementation by World Learning, in partnership with the Office of Alumni Affairs of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).  

Communities Connecting Heritage

Communities Connecting HeritageSM  Program Impact


CCH Alumni Small Grants

At the conclusion of the program’s third year, the CCH team opened the Communities Connecting Heritage Small Grants to organizational and community member alumni from all three CCH cycles. The following projects were selected for CCH Small Grant implementation.

Kristina Llane (Albania)
Title of Project: Beekeeping Tradition as and Educative Tool

This project aims to preserve and share the importance of local beekeeping traditions in the Gjirokastra community of Albania. Kristina will work with elementary school students to cultivate youth interest in beekeeping’s cultural role in their community. Throughout the project, students and teachers will contribute to an educational book on beekeeping to that will equip teachers to continue sharing with future classrooms. The project will conclude with a panel discussion focused on protecting and preserving culture, tradition, and the environment in Albania.

Kalpana Gagdekar (India)
Title of Project: Connecting Community with Their Traditional/Heritage Cuisine

This project will explore and document the Chhara community’s traditional cuisines, which are experiencing a disappearing effect under modern global influences. Kalpana aims to document the rituals and heritage of Chhara cuisine through seven video interviews with Chhara women elders. The project combines modern technology with traditional food heritage and welcomes Chhara members of all ages to reclaim and rediscover their own heritage.

Mandala Theatre (Nepal) and Creative Connections (Connecticut, U.S.)
Title of Project: Hamro Sanskriti: Preserving Cultural Heritage through Participatory Theatre

The goal of this project is to provide youth in Connecticut and Nepal with a deeper connection to their own culture through student-led virtual workshops. The workshops – spearheaded by theater trainers in Nepal and Connecticut – will teach participatory theater techniques to 250 high school students and conclude with a model forum theater piece produced by students for the public.

Athar Lina (Egypt)
Title of Project: Rawya: The Water Women

Rawya: The Water Women is a Cairo-based project aimed at restoring the historically significant Sabil Um Abbas, a 19th century religious building and gathering place, into a usable community space once more. In addition to restoring aspects of the building, the project will connect U.S. and Egyptian women storytellers Donna Bryson and Chirine El Ansary to curate a storytelling experience of powerful 19th century women from their respective countries. Their work will culminate in a video exhibition that will be on display in the newly renovated Sabil Um Abbas for the local community to experience.

Bhasha Research and Publication Centre (India) and University of Northern Colorado (Colorado, U.S.)
Title of Project: Reclaiming Heritage II: Building Social Bonds and Bridges with Cultural Heritage

This project will utilize digital library resources at UNC to create and share cultural heritage “snapshots” with the broader community. These short videos will help immigrants and refugees in Colorado and indigenous peoples in India share their cultural heritage while building bonds with their local communities. The project will provide its participants with the ownership and platform to share their own heritage while paving a pathway for integration with others in their community.

Outside the Lens (California, U.S.)
Title of Project: Youth Tellers

Youth Tellers is a cross-cultural collaboration between Latinx youth in California and Bosnia-Herzegovina, relying on the concepts of past, present, and future to explore students’ complex cultural identities. Using digital media tools including photography, videography, and youth-facing communication forums like Discord, the project will culminate in a virtual exhibition showcasing the participants’ cultural heritage exchange with one another.

Explore the Story section on the right to learn more about the unique cultural heritage projects implemented since 2018.

Digital Communication Network

Examples of Past Digital Communication Network Projects

  • Internet vs. Democracy Forum
  • Roaring 20s #Digital Forum
  • Combatting Disinformation Training Program
  • Digital and Media Literacy for NGOs Training Program
  • Tolerance and Coexistence 2.0 Forum
  • Montenegro Digital Influencers Hub
  • Humor and Games for Social Good Forum

Fulbright Specialist Program


Link U.S. Experts and International Institutions

A program of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Specialist Program is a unique opportunity for U.S. academics and established professionals to engage in two- to six-week consultancies at host institutions across the globe. Host institutions, including universities, non-profits, and other organizations, develop and submit projects for approval by the U.S. Embassy or Fulbright Commission in their country in wide-ranging academic and professional fields that build capacity and promote long-lasting linkages between individuals and institutions in the U.S. and abroad.


Address Priorities and Build Institutional Capacity at Institutions Around the World

An important companion to the traditional Fulbright Scholar Program, the Fulbright Specialist Program differs by providing short-term exchange experiences that tackle discrete, sometimes rapid response, projects. The Fulbright Specialist Program encourages participation of both university faculty and highly experienced non-academics, including legal experts, business professionals, public health practitioners, scientists, IT professionals, artists, and journalists. The program is a mutually beneficial opportunity for the Specialist who may not be available to leave their position for an extended period of time and the host institution which needs an experienced partner to jointly tackle a problem or examine an issue on a short-term basis.


Become a Fulbright Specialist: Apply to Join the Roster

Fulbright Specialists are a diverse group of highly experienced, well-established faculty members and professionals who represent a wide variety of academic disciplines and professions.  In order to be eligible to serve as a Fulbright Specialist, candidates must have significant experience in their respective professional field and be a U.S. citizen at time of application. Eligible disciplines and professional fields supported by the Fulbright Specialist Program are listed below.

  • Agriculture
  • American Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Archeology
  • Biology Education
  • Business Administration
  • Chemistry Education
  • Communications and Journalism
  • Computer Science and Information Technology
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Engineering Education
  • Environmental Science
  • Law
  • Library Science
  • Math Education
  • Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies
  • Physics Education
  • Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Public/Global Health
  • Social Work
  • Sociology
  • Urban Planning

Interested candidates can find more information about the Fulbright Specialist Program and apply to serve as a Specialist at fulbrightspecialist.worldlearning.org. Candidates who meet all eligibility requirements will have their full applications reviewed by a panel of their professional peers. Candidates who are approved by the peer review panels will then join the Fulbright Specialist Roster. Individuals remain on the Specialist Roster for a three-year term and are eligible to be matched with a host institution’s project abroad during that tenure.

The following costs are covered for those Fulbright Specialists who are matched to a project: international and domestic airfare, ground transportation, visa fees, lodging, meals, and incidentals. A daily honorarium is also provided.

Become a Host: Bring a Fulbright Specialist to Your Institution

The Fulbright Specialist Program allows universities, cultural centers, non-governmental organizations, and other institutions abroad to host a leading U.S. academic or professional to work on diverse, short-term collaborative projects where the Specialist conducts activities which may include, but are not limited to:

  • Delivering a seminar or workshop
  • Consulting on faculty or workforce development
  • Developing academic or training curricula and materials
  • Lecturing at the graduate or undergraduate level
  • Conducting needs assessments or evaluations for a program or institution

Institutions interested in hosting a Fulbright Specialist should contact their local Fulbright Commission or U.S. Embassy for country-specific requirements and deadlines.

Contact information for all participating countries is available on the fulbrightspecialist.worldlearning.org website.

For more information or questions about the Fulbright Specialist Program, please email [email protected].

The Fulbright Specialist Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. government and administered by World Learning.

International Sports Programming Initiative

Application Process

Participants come from a variety of sports backgrounds, based on local priorities and opportunities to create sustainability, in each specific country.

Participants are recruited by World Learning, with support from the U.S. Embassies abroad.

For more information on sports diplomacy programs, visit https://eca.state.gov/programs-initiatives/initiatives/sports-diplomacy.

The International Sports Programming Initiative is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by World Learning.

International Visitor Leadership Program

End of Year Report

Chosen by U.S. embassies worldwide to participate, distinguished professionals include:

  • parliamentarians
  • government officials
  • entrepreneurs
  • NGO leaders
  • journalists
  • academics
  • arts administrators
  • mid-career professionals

Programs focus on policy issues in areas such as:

  • government
  • international security
  • foreign policy
  • entrepreneurship
  • economics and trade
  • media
  • women’s leadership
  • education
  • public health
  • arts
  • agriculture
  • disability rights and inclusion

World Learning staff members design national itineraries, arrange logistics, set up meetings in Washington, DC, and coordinate the collaboration of U.S. Department of State program officers, interpreters and International Visitor Liaisons, and more than 85 community-based member organizations from the Global Ties U.S. Network who arrange local programs nationwide.


Most participants are mid-career professionals and emerging leaders, and for many, this is their first visit to the U.S. Groups are of varying sizes, from single visitors to groups of 25 or more. World Learning program staff work closely with their State Department counterparts to design a program customized to the project objectives and the visitors’ interests.


Participant Selection

IVLP candidates are selected solely by U.S. embassy personnel in each country. There is no application form. World Learning is a private sector partner of the U.S. Department of State; our role is limited to designing programs for participants once they arrive in the U.S. For further information regarding the program, please consult the U.S. Department of State’s website.

Program Design

A typical project includes up to a week of meetings in Washington, DC, to provide an orientation and overview of the theme and to introduce visitors to federal officials and agencies, national organizations, academics and think tanks, nonprofits and NGOs, and professionals in their specific field of interest. All projects include a briefing on the US federal system of government. Meetings may include panel discussions, site visits, workshops, individual interlocutors, job shadowing, or service opportunities. Visitors typically travel to an additional three or four cities in geographically diverse regions of the country; the itinerary may include a state capital and a small town to provide first-hand exposure to the great diversity that exists in the U.S. Also included in the program design are hospitality dinners, school visits, community service activities, and cultural events such as rodeos, state fairs, festivals, visits to national parks, or events that highlight some unique aspect of the region visited.

Participant Experience

“My recent experience in the IVLP program is so far the deepest ever for me to see and understand the full picture of what America as a country is like. I strongly believe this program will have a very long-term impact on my views about America and the world and to some extent it has already helped me to understand many long-time questions.” – Journalist from China

The International Visitor Leadership Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by World Learning.

Kids Can Code

Watch this video from our partner Kano to learn more about Kids Can Code:

Leaders Lead On-Demand Program

Examples of past leaders Lead On-Demand Projects:

  • Vietnam Legal Aid
  • Refugee Integration and Resettlement in Central and Eastern Europe
  • Sports Leadership Program for Colombia
  • Mongolia Disability Rights Legislation and Implementation
  • Promoting Open Educational Resources: Middle East and North Africa
  • Tourism and Development in Serbia and Kosovo
  • Religious Freedom and Interfaith Dialogue for Myanmar, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand
  • Emerging Leaders Exchange for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
  • Environmental Advocacy for Mongolia
  • Getting Connected Program for the South Pacific
  • Civic Engagement Program for Moldova
  • Disinformation and Fact Checking in Kenya

The Leaders Lead On-Demand is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by World Learning.

Leadership Development Fellowship

Fellowship Cycle

Starting in 2020, the LDF Fellowship will take place over 12 months and include 5 stages:

Stage One: Fellowship begins with two weeks of in-person workshops and trainings in the U.S. with World Learning and Duke University focused on: studying the systems that contribute to societal challenges; building effective partnerships for social change; and developing inclusive and equitable interventions.

Stage Two: Fellows refine interventions and complete exercises that provide local focus on systems analysis, inclusive interventions, building partnerships, and other acquired tools and knowledge from Stage One.

Stage Three: Fellows spend three weeks in the United States for the English Track (for high-proficiency English speakers), or Tunisia for the Arabic Track (for high-proficiency Arabic speakers), to gain academic and local insights into civic engagement and social entrepreneurship and to report and reflect on the findings of their Stage Two activities.

Stage Four: Over six months, Fellows apply the lessons of the LDF Fellowship and report on results to strengthen their ongoing civic and social entrepreneurial activities. During this stage, Fellows may apply for small grants or technical assistance.

Stage Five: In the twelfth month, the Fellows reconvene for three days to learn and share the impact of their LDF experience.

For questions about the LDF Fellowship, please email [email protected].

For a list of eligible countries, please refer to the U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) website.

For the latest updates and announcements, please visit the LDF Fellowship Facebook page.